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Amarnath yatra will not be curtailed, says J&K CM

By Mukhtar Ahmad
March 19, 2010 22:33 IST
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Omar Abdullah has said his government would not curtail the two-month-long annual Amarnath yatra scheduled to begin in June this year.

"The Amarnath yatra is within a specified time frame. It is part of the economic activity," Abdullah told the state assembly.

He said, "Kashmir has been secular and a majority of the right thinking people in Kashmir have welcomed the Amarnath yatris with open arms."

Hard-line separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani has sought curtailment of the yatra period for what he called  'the

preservation of ecology in the Kashmir Himalayas'.

"I am not against the pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnath, but it should be done in the way as it was done in the past. The extension of the yatra to two months has proved detrimental to our forests in Baltal and Pahalgam areas," Geelani said while addressing a congregation in south Kashmir's Anantnag town on Friday.

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar